Sir Cedric Lockwood Morris, Bt. (1889-1982)
The Municipality of Agaete is one of 20 on the central island of Gran Canaria in the Spanish-owned African archipelago. The region held a special significance for Morris, as it was one of only a few places he visited that was host to wild mountain cacti...
Throughout the winters of the 1950s Morris returned to Portugal and Spain, painting prolifically on each visit. As a plantsman and recognised breeder of exotic species of flora, the allure of plant collecting across the region held a persistent attraction for him. His garden of rare plants and propagated irises and a greenhouse well stocked with rare cacti at Benton End were renowned among gardeners and artists alike; Morris was considered to own one of the finest private collections of plants in the country. In this respect, Morris was relentless in his search for foreign species of plants and flowers from which he could draw inspiration both as a painter and as a plantsman. It was this insatiable commitment to the study and depiction of plants that brought Morris back to the Canary Islands throughout the decade. A previous work entitled San Marcos, Tenerife (1955) (previously with Philip Mould & Company) was painted on the same excursion, which resulted in the present view on the neighbouring island of Gran Canaria.
The Municipality of Agaete is one of 20 on the central island of Gran Canaria in the Spanish-owned African archipelago. The region held a special significance for Morris, as it was one of only a few places he visited that was host to wild mountain cacti. Seen here, Morris gives precedence to the succulent by placing it in the immediate foreground, the shape of which is echoed in the curve of the road below.
Morris would often travel in winter without Lett, who would remain at Benton End to maintain the house and keep up-to-date with all their mutual correspondence. On this occasion, Morris was travelling with friend and fellow plantsman, Nigel Scott, after whom Morris touchingly named his ‘Benton Nigel’ species of iris in 1956. Scott was an immensely influential figure in Morris’s life, if only for a relatively short period (Scott was to contract a fatal fever while collecting plants with Morris in Tenerife in January 1957). In Ronald Blythe’s (1922–) recollection of Benton End, he describes how Scott was almost as fine a gardener as Morris, and together they expanded the upper garden at Benton End in the early 1950s. They would share many collecting holidays together throughout the Canaries and Portugal.